My Pro Democracy Willow Vase | The Chuffed Store My Pro Democracy Willow Vase | The Chuffed Store

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The Willow pattern is a distinctive and elaborate chinoiserie pattern popular at the end of the 18th century in England, when, in its standard form, it was developed by ceramic artists adapting motifs inspired by fashionable hand-painted blue and white wares imported from China.

It depicts a story: once there was a wealthy Mandarin, who had a beautiful daughter. She fell in love with her father’s accounting assistant, angering her father. He dismissed the young man and built a high fence around his house to keep the lovers apart. The Mandarin was planning for his daughter to marry a powerful Duke. The Duke arrived by boat to claim his bride.

On the eve of the daughter’s wedding, the young accountant, disguised as a servant, slipped into the palace unnoticed. As the lovers escaped, the alarm was raised. They ran over a bridge, chased by the Mandarin, whip in hand, though it looks more like a ball and chain.

They eventually escaped on the Duke’s ship to the safety of a secluded island, where they lived happily for years. But one day, the Duke learned of their refuge. He sent soldiers, who captured the lovers and put them to death. The gods, moved by their plight, transformed the lovers into a pair of doves

I decided I would give the traditional pattern a more up-to-date interpretation, my first attempt at political pottery, and with the suppression of dissent and democracy in Hong Kong and the repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang in mind, I made a subversive vase, since I feel strongly about the issue, and I am a potter.

So, instead of the traditional two doves kissing –  two helicopters keeping an eye on things. Instead of lovers fleeing over a bridge – a line of prisoners with their guards. Instead of the Duke arriving by boat – a security launch, and so on.